Destruction - Live Without Sense (1989)Release ID: 2998
I’ve never found German thrash metal heavy-weights Destruction to be quite as compelling as fellow Teutonic thrash legends Kreator & Sodom to be honest. I quite enjoyed 1984's “Bestial Invasion of Hell” demo but their first couple of proper releases (1984’s “Sentence of Death” E.P. & 1985’s “Infernal Overkill” full-length album) did very little for me. It wasn’t until they began to go in a more sophisticated direction with 1986’s “Eternal Devastation” sophomore album that my interest would start to be tweaked & they’d continue to build on that over their next couple of releases, peaking with my favourite Destruction album in 1987’s classic “Release From Agony” which was clearly their most complex & innovative record to the time. So 1989 would seem to have been the perfect time to release Destruction’s first live album in the cleverly titled “Live Without Sense” (a reworking of the titled of one of their songs “Life Without Sense”), wouldn’t it? Well, for me it was anyway. And the result is as enjoyable & impressible as it had the potential to be too.
“Live Without Sense” is a well-produced & executed summary of Destruction’s career to the time. The production does a good job at balancing the raw electricity of the band’s studio work with a consistent clarity that sees every instrument owning its own space. The only criticism I would have there is the snare sound which does highlight drummer Olly’s position as the weak point of the band. It’s just a little intrusive which makes the simpler beats sound more basic than they might otherwise have done. The guitar work slays here though, despite the fact that both men think they’re more technically capable than they actually are. The consistent use of high-end techniques such as classically-influenced sweep-picked arpeggios was certainly pushing both musicians limitations but they somehow manage to get away with it due to the fact that they’re simply so cool. Yes, some of the lead solos are a bit sloppy but they also sound quite inspired & fuelled by Satan himself. Front man Schmier & I have had our differences over the years & that’s not been totally been ironed out here with those high-pitched squeals I struggle with so much still popping up from time to time but it’s hard to deny that his signature snarl sounds pretty bad-ass for the majority of the run time.
The tracklisting offers a nice mix of material with inclusions from every record in Destruction’s back catalogue. I don’t think it’s any surprise that the tracks that appeal to me the least (“Thrash Attack”, “Invincible Force” & “Bestial Invasion”) are all drawn from the speed metal-influenced 1984/85 period releases but thankfully they’ve benefitted from the band’s greatly improved chops & now sound significantly more tight & professional than they originally did. This gives “Live Without Sense” an impressive level of consistency with all of the more recent material being exceptionally strong. In saying that though, the only track that I regard as a genuine thrash classic is “Reject Emotions” with its darker atmosphere reminding me of Slayer’s more mid-paced material. The more technical songs like “Dissatisfied Existence” work really well & often see me reaching for Coroner comparisons which can’t be a bad thing either. I could really do without the inclusion of an unaccompanied guitar solo & two humorous interludes (i.e “Pink Panther” & “In The Mood”) though as they each represent slight blemishes on an otherwise exceptionally solid tracklisting. The guitar solo may impress those that aren’t trained musicians but I’d suggest that Eddie Van Halen & Randy Rhoads can rest easy as their crowns are in no jeopardy.
“Live Without Sense” is an excellent example of a thrash metal live album & won’t disappoint any fans of Destruction or the genre in general. In fact, I place it behind only “Release From Agony” in terms of the band’s overall discography with the clear production & strong tracklisting making it an attractive listening option for someone like myself that wasn’t convinced by Destruction’s more crudely presented early releases.